Monday, February 15, 2016

The Power of Poetry

Sidney’s “Apology for Poetry” says that “the poet is the food for the tenderest stomachs,” and I agree (90). While Chaucer’s poetry is hard to understand due to the lack of modern spellings, it fits with Sidney’s definition of what poetry should be. The tales featured in the Chaucer reading are an excellent example of poetry being used to record spoken tales. The entirety of the Canterbury Tales is just people telling stories to each other on a pilgrimage, but that telling is formatted to be look like poetry. The poet in this case truly is the moderator between the historian and the moral philosopher (88). In the Franklin’s Tale, Chaucer speaks of a couple who decides that a marriage of equality is a good idea. This would not have been a popular idea at the time, but writing a bawdy tale about such a subject was a good way to mask its potential impact on society. The historians can look back and see progressive social ideas from poems like this, and philosophers can also use them to find examples from the past to back up their own statements about equality. Without poetry—and without its accessibility—literature would suffer greatly.

Like Sidney says, “it is not rhyming and versing that maketh a poet” (87). I think it is the ideas that lie behind the verse and the way they are expressed. Sidney argues that the philosopher exists to teach those who are already educated while the poet exists to provide his work to everyone regardless of their education level. Good poetry affects people without taking into account their level of understanding. It’s easy to imagine a group of people sitting around sharing different stories and learning something from each one of them. Poetry gave us that. It gives us a medium through which we can explore different cultures, different feelings, and through which we can learn about something that we have never seen or experienced before without actually having to do so. It gives us a way to relate to other people without actually having to go through the same things they have.

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